College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Sociology & Criminology

Butler University Chapter of the John Weidner Foundation for Altruism

On April 30, 2006, the Butler Student Sociology Association (SSA) established a University Chapter of the John Weidner Foundation for Altruism. John Weidner was a Dutchman living in France when the Germans invaded in 1940. Over the next five years, with the help of up to 300 like-minded compatriots, he helped approximately a thousand people escape the Germans into safety in Switzerland and Spain. The escapees included American and British downed airmen, Jewish refugees, and Dutch, Belgian, Polish and French citizens fleeing the Germans. John was honored at the end of the war by the Governments of Holland, the United States, Britain, Israel and France. He was also honored at the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1993.

John died in 1994 in California where he had lived for many years. His widow, Naomi, created a foundation to honor John's altruistic work. William Ervin, a former Sociology adjunct professor and board member of the Weidner Foundation, helped create a Butler Chapter because of the clear connection between the programs represented in the Department of Sociology & Criminology that stress community service, promote human welfare and social good.

In addition to the Foundation Scholarship, the Indianapolis Downtown Rotary Club also provides financial support for a second scholarship award for altruism which is given annually.

The SSA annually gives the scholarship awards to two deserving Butler students. SSA presents these awards and honors the recipients at the Department of Sociology and Criminology annual banquet during the spring semester.

John Weidner 2013 Scholarship & Award for Altruism

John Weidner was a Dutch citizen and Seventh Day Adventist who, during World War II, saved the lives of about 1,000 British and American downed airmen, Jews, Dutch, Belgians, and French fleeing Nazi persecution. He was honored by five governments after the war and by the Holocaust Museum at its opening in 1993.  John died in Los Angeles in 1994, and his widow, Naomi, started a foundation for honoring the altruistic spirit: "unselfish concern for the welfare of others."

The Butler Student Sociology Association formed the Butler University Chapter of the John Weidner Foundation for Altruism in 2005 - 2006 under the guidance of former Sociology Adjunct Professor, William Ervin. The Student Sociology Association presents two annual scholarships in the spring, honoring TWO Butler students for acts of altruism.

John Weidner Award for Altruism Application (PDF)


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2012 Weidner award winners: Dan Peterson & Troy Gulden with Weidner representative Bill Ervin